If You Don't Use a Car & Just Let It Sit There Do You Still Have to Pay Insurance?

by Tom Streissguth

Driving without car insurance is a bad idea -- you're breaking the law in 49 states, and have no protection against a financial disaster if you get into an accident. If you don't drive your car, then you sill can take out some coverage if the vehicle has any value. As a stationary object, it still is at a risk for damage as well as theft.

State Law and Car Insurance

State law applies to car insurance, and the laws uniformly require insurance if you have a registered vehicle. The sole exception is New Hampshire, which requires either insurance or a demonstrated ability to pay any damages and medical bills in the event of an accident. Auto insurance applies to the vehicle and to anyone who may be driving it; therefore a car that is not registered and never driven does not require car insurance by law.

De-Registration

Before you strike your idle car from the insurance policy, notify your state's DMV that you are allowing the registration and the insurance to lapse. You will be required to turn over the car's license plates, which allow you to take the vehicle out on the road. If the insurance lapses, in many states the car is no longer legally registered, and you can be fined for driving it. Connecticut and other states require insurance companies to report any lapsed policies.

Comprehensive Insurance

Even if the car sits idle, you can purchase comprehensive insurance on it. This is the coverage that pays for damages in a non-accident event, such as a falling tree, storm damage, flooding or a fire. If the vehicle is just used for parts and has no resale value, comprehensive insurance may be a waste of money, as it will come with a deductible amount that must be paid in the event of damage anyway.

Seasonal Cars

Many owners keep their valuable or collection car idle during the winter, as they don't want to take the vehicle out and contend with ice, snow, slush and road salt. For seasonal vehicles, insurance companies will temporarily "freeze" a policy, which provides little or no coverage but keeps the policy in effect. They also can write a policy for only the minimum-required liability and collision insurance during a defined period of time. Comprehensive insurance can cover a car with value that is left in a garage or driveway. This type of insurance covers theft as well as non-accident damage.

About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

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